Which would you choose, your partner or your pet? That may be a tough decision. At least it was for a sizeable chunk of respondents in a recent AP/Petside.com Poll. A nationwide telephone survey of 1,501 adults, including 1,000 pet owners, found that 14 percent of those queried said they’d pick Spot over their spouse.
But rather than being shocked by these findings, perhaps we should take note. What can we learn from our furred and feathered buddies that would make us better husbands and wives?
Rex doesn’t love you because of what you’ve done or how you look. He loves you because you’re you. In fact, he doesn’t understand a single detail of your life. You’re good enough as you are. Imagine feeling the same way about your spouse and firmly believing that he or she was perfect. Your mate would instantly feel like a million bucks. You’d be overflowing with your own life-is-great emotions.
Pets say “I adore you” in nearly everything they do. Whether they’re wagging their tails as you come home from work or curled in your lap as you read e-mail, they’re happiest when you’re together. Tonight, tell your loved one, “I’m so glad you’re in my life.” Then give him or her a big bear hug. Your simple gesture will speak volumes and set the stage for more warm fuzzies in the near future.
Kiss often and on the lips.
Lady loves licking your face. It’s her way of showing how much she cares. Kisses are equally important for our human loved ones. Make it a habit to kiss each other in greeting. Always kiss when you’re ready to part. Kiss to say, “I love you.” Even kiss for no reason at all. Each kiss is a symbol of your underlying ardor. So pack them with plenty of passion!
Greet with enthusiasm
Buster’s ecstatic when he sees you. No matter how brief the absence, he’s overjoyed when you walk in the room. That same gusto is AWOL in most marriages. We too often greet our partners with disinterest, as if their presence is a ho-hum affair. Such lackluster salutations are not only insulting, they say, “You’re not important to me.” Of course, we may have our arms full of groceries or be engrossed in an overseas call.
But the second we’re free we should rush to say hello, letting sweeties know they’re special and we’re happy that they’re home.
,b>Don’t hold grudges
Pets are never angry about things that happened in the past. If it’s not happening this minute, it’s not happening at all. Human beings are very different. We recall details and emotions from years gone by and often respond as if they were current events. This ability wreaks havoc on our relationships. Spouses accuse partners of misbehaving, then inflict nonstop punishment for actions the partner can’t undo. Take a lesson from Fido and let the past fade from your psychic screen. Forgive your loved one’s transgressions. Enjoy your life today.
Be a good listener
Molly is the world’s best listener. She’s never too busy to hear you out. Regardless of the time or issue, her ears prick up at the sound of your voice. Loved ones should be just as attentive by turning off the TV or iPod when their partners want to talk. Make it a minimal commitment to chat for 10 minutes every day. Start with easy questions, such as “How was work?” Move on to deeper topics as the moment warrants. Avoid interrupting or being judgmental. Simply listening and paying attention will do the trick.
Take long walks with those you love
There’s nothing that makes a pet happier than seeing his leash in his owner’s hand. But walks are equally enjoyable for humans. Not only is walking great exercise, it’s a great time to talk and bond. Group strolls tell fellow walkers you enjoy their company. And they produce feel-good endorphins that improve your mood.
Watch a cat chasing its tail or a dog racing after a ball. Play and movement are such delight to our pets. But it’s a skill most of us lose at an early age. Do yourself a favor and reconnect with your inner third-grader. Shoot hoops on the driveway. Bake brownies and lick the bowl. Routinely set aside all demands on your time so you can savor being alive.
Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her visit lindalewisgriffith.com